Don’t tar the rest of the Penrith crowd because of one idiot

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

 , , ,

73 Have your say

    “You black dog!”

    This is what was allegedly yelled at South Sydney Rabbitohs captain and NRL champion Greg Inglis as he left the field in the 34th minute of their clash with the Panthers.

    Penrith were trailing 14-0 at the time and many of their fans felt that Inglis may have deliberately stayed down to stop the home side’s momentum in attack.

    So they booed the Queenslander-by-way-of-Bowraville as he left the field.

    And that’s footy. The crowd is the 18th player. The atmosphere and passion they create is a large part of what makes the game great. The Panthers’ faithful wasn’t right on this occasion – Inglis had copped a heavy head knock and was not foxing for advantage, something I’m not sure he’d do anyway.


    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    I’m here to defend the right of every league crowd to voice their displeasure with foul play, wrong decisions, poor effort, etc etc. If you don’t like that aspect of the game, I suggest you don’t come to the ground. It happens at all of them.

    Unfortunately, there was an idiot in the crowd who attached a racial slur to their displeasure, casting disrespect on Inglis’ Indigenous heritage.

    What sort of total idiot does that in this day and age? The culprit should be found, named and shamed.

    It wasn’t just a crap sentiment in regard to the vilification of Inglis personally – a man who has strode our game like a behemoth for over a decade. It was also stupid because of how much Indigenous Australians mean to rugby league.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been – and continue to be – an ornament to the sport. No other heritage has been so over-represented in regard to their involvement and passion for our game.

    Just consider these superb rugby league players:
    • Preston Campbell
    • Sam Backo
    • Arthur Beetson
    • Matt Bowen
    • Greg Bird
    • Larry Corowa
    • Laurie Daley (and his cousin, Katrina Fanning)
    • Steve Ella
    • John Ferguson
    • Ron Gibbs
    • Justin Hodges
    • Cliff Lyons
    • Anthony Mundine
    • Nathan Merritt
    • Ewan McGrady
    • David Peachey
    • Scott Prince
    • Steve Renouf
    • Wendell Sailor
    • Dale Shearer
    • Gorden Tallis
    • Timana Tahu
    • Ricky Walford
    • Rhys Wesser

    Imagine how much poorer rugby league would have been without those players.

    I don’t want to.

    I still wipe tears from my eyes watching vision of Chicka Ferguson diving over for that crucial try in the 1989 grand final. Only Chicka could have scored that. He is one of my idols.

    Just try and find a current team list that doesn’t have a great player or two who is of Indigenous heritage. Here is a list off the top of my head:

    • Andrew Fifita
    • Wade Graham
    • Latrell Mitchell
    • Blake Ferguson
    • Jake Friend
    • Johnathan Thurston
    • Nathan Peats
    • John Sutton
    • James Roberts
    • Sam Thaiday
    • Dane Gagai
    • Alex Johnston
    • Will Chambers
    • Josh Addo-Carr
    • Joel Thompson
    • Ryan James
    • Bevan French
    • Corey Norman
    • Josh Hoffman
    • Jack Wighton
    • Aidan Sezer

    Some pretty handy players there, I think you’ll agree.

    And of course you can add the Panthers’ own Tyrone Peachey to that list, who was sitting on the bench in earshot of that idiot who thought racial vilification was acceptable. Peachey, of course, then went on to score the winning try, much to the rapturous delight of the Penrith fans, who love the lad from Wellington as their own.

    Bryce Cartwright Penrith Panthers NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher released the following statement about the matter:

    “Panthers has been made aware of an allegation of racial abuse directed at South Sydney player Greg Inglis by a member of the crowd at Panthers Stadium yesterday. I wish to make it clear our club does not tolerate this kind of behaviour in any form. We will work with the NRL to investigate the matter and any perpetrators will be swiftly dealt with. Our club apologises unreservedly to Greg Inglis for the upset caused by the alleged incident.”

    I want to assure any fans that, as a result of this incident, are concerned that Panther Park is a dangerous place which is full of racists that – in my considerable experience of the place – nothing could be further from the truth.

    I can virtually assure you that it was a lone idiot.

    I’ve been to most of the grounds used in the NRL, both as a spectator and as a broadcaster. I’ve been on the sideline at Panther Park many times. On all those occasions, I have never heard any such abuse leveled at anyone.

    What is more, I love going to Panther Park. It is one of my favourite grounds. My experience of the ground is of it being a great place where families come and the atmosphere is great.

    I’ve never seen violence or felt threatened there, ever. What’s more, it has always seemed to be a melting pot of Australian society, with people of all races and creeds there in numbers – side by side.

    Even on the southern hill, one well-lubricated night, dressed in my lime green – with contentious issues aplenty on-field – I felt completely safe.

    That’s something I can’t say of every ground or group of supporters by a long stretch.

    So, while it was appalling and the perpetrator should be severely punished, please do not tar the Penrith crowd with the brush of racism because of this isolated incident.

    My experience says that would neither be correct nor reasonable.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (73)

    • March 21st 2018 @ 6:28am
      peeko said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      well said Tim

    • March 21st 2018 @ 6:43am
      Busty McCracken said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      Here here, well said.

      Tarnishing all of Penrith would be like tarnishing an expert knot-tyer in a knot-tying contest right in the middle of tying a knot.

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2018 @ 9:05am
        spruce moose said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        I’ll stick by you in secret Busty. Like a sock maker secretly working on a top secret sock that…

        • March 21st 2018 @ 10:45am
          Busty McCracken said | March 21st 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

          Will you stop looking at your feet!!

    • March 21st 2018 @ 6:59am
      kk said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      The offender should voluntarily apologise face to face with GI.

      That way his life may take a turn for the better.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 7:12am
      jimmmy said | March 21st 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Great article Tim. The tendancy to generalise group characteristics from individual behaviours is one of mankind’s biggest logical flaws.
      I hope the guy is caught and a just punishment is delivered as it should be. My first time at a live game of footy was in 1967. I have been to hundreds since then, I have heard only two overt racial taunts in all that time. One was in the early eighties, directed at none other than Mal Maninga ,when he was playing for Brisbane Souths.
      He picked the wrong time and place ( Davies Park) to voice his racist nature and his swift punishment meant a trip to hospital. He was a supporter of my club and I would have been appalled if anyone attributed what he said to the rest of us.

    • Roar Guru

      March 21st 2018 @ 8:02am
      The Barry said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      I don’t think anyone is tarring Panthers fans. I think the response from Panthers fans and the club has been appropriately contrite.

      Here’s some food for thought though – and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get this across appropriately but here goes…

      Tim has made a great point about the contribution indigenous players have made to rugby league. But that’s not the only reason why they shouldn’t be vilified.

      Chinese and Swedish people haven’t made much of a contribution to rugby league…but it shouldn’t / wouldn’t be ok to racially abuse players with that heritage.

      Indigenous players haven’t historically made as big an impact in soccer as they have in league or AFL. Can soccer fans give them a serve?

      I know that’s not the point Tim is making at all, in the slightest. Ever.

      But I sometimes think overall we’re quicker to expose and condemn in these situations where there’s a “look what they’ve done for us” narrative, where really it’s just not right calling someone a “black dog” regardless of whether they’re a famous footballer or a face in the crowd.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 9:46am
        Paul said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        I think you’re trying to say it’s not okay to racially vilify anyone, regardless of the contribution that has or has not been made by people from their racial background. No argument about that, TB.

        I was in Darwin many years ago watching a Great Britain side play an NT rep side and Henderson Gill was playing. He absolutely killed us that night and after heading back to half way from scoring a brilliant try, a bozo in the crowd made a coloured remark about him. The entire crowd stopped, a whole bunch of spectators caught this guy and helped him leave the ground. Territory justice would have been a good thing at the Panthers last weekend

        • Roar Guru

          March 21st 2018 @ 10:01am
          The Barry said | March 21st 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          Yeah, that’s what I’m saying…although nowhere near as succinctly as you’ve put it…🤣

          But a little bit more also. I think it’s interesting that we need to say “it’s not right to call Inglis a black dog because indigenous people have made a wonderful contribution to rugby league” rather than “it’s not right to call an indigenous person a black dog”.

          I guess it would have made it a much shorter article but you see that little justification slip in to these debates all over the place. Maybe some people need that context to see the impact…

          • Columnist

            March 21st 2018 @ 10:06am
            Tim Gore said | March 21st 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

            I know you aren’t picking on me but please note the bit where I say “it was also stupid because…” before discussing the superb contribution of Indigenous Australians to the game.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 2:26pm
        RandyM said | March 21st 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        I think one of the great aspect of Rugby league in Australia is that Indigenous players are just seen the same as anyone else playing the game and not given special treatment. Blues fans have always freely thrown insults (good natured) at guys like Thaiday and Justin Hodges without it attracting claims of racism. These guys were just good at niggling and getting under the skin of their opposition. Watching Sammy T in origin i just see another grubby queenslander, not his racial heritage.

    • March 21st 2018 @ 8:04am
      AGO74 said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I agree with you Tim but I guess my question is has there been much vilification of panthers fans given are all like this in general public and/or media? Anyone with half a brain would know that this incident is very much an extremely isolated exception rather than the norm.

      It was rightly- and more importantly immediately heavily condemned by all involved in the NRL. If it wasn’t condemned in the harshest of terms then this is a genuinely topic of discussion, however since it was do articles like this 4-5 days after the event potentially just give further oxygen to this incident and any potential idiot wanting to tar all panthers/league fans with this brush?

      I probably write this with additional perspective of having experienced unreasonable generalisations and stereotyping in my other sporting love (football aka soccer and specifically the A-League) with so called hooliganism etc (or whatever you want to call it) if an incident occurs. I could write you a story about how I’ve been going to A-league game since the first season and I take my young kids and theylove it and I’m far from alone in that comment despite what channel 7 and daily telegraph might like to tell you. However Experiences like mine and others don’t seem to be considered when making those generalisations. It’s even more frustrating when you go to the cricket (another sporting love of mine) and see dozens of blokes get carted out for being drunk and disorderly and/or fighting yet it never gets reported on? Why – presumably because getting on the p!ss at the cricket is seen as being more Aussie.

      Anyway, sorry I’ve gone pretty off topic! – but I hope you understand what I’m getting at.

      • March 21st 2018 @ 9:50am
        Kangajets said | March 21st 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        I agree, neither rugby league or soccer fans should be tarnished by the ugly behaviour of an individual.

      • Columnist

        March 21st 2018 @ 10:07am
        Tim Gore said | March 21st 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        I certainly hope not AG074. I’m trying to head it off before it happens.

    , , ,